After Jing Ke has left, Lan Er wonders why Jing Ke and Li Er can’t be together when they love each other so much. Han Shen just replies that things are not that simple – if love means that two people will be together, then there wouldn’t be so many unmarried people. He says that the situation is up to Jing Ke and Li Er to resolve between themselves.
Poor Han Shen. He has so much that he has to deal with. At the beginning of the drama I didn’t pay much attention to him, but I’ve grown to really like him and he’s now one of my favorites. I hope he‘s one of the ones still standing at the end of this drama. Even though I can sympathize with Jing Ke and how he must be feeling, he shouldn’t have gone after Han Shen like that because Han Shen really didn’t do anything wrong. He seems like such a great guy, so decent and responsible, and he spent a year in the Qin palace just to find Li Er and make sure that she was okay.
Still furious, Ying Zheng yells at Li Zhong and Zhao Gao and all the palace guards and eunuchs who have gathered around. He wonders what use his palace guards are, when they couldn’t even prevent an unarmed woman from leaving. He’s angry that his Qin palace is a place that people are entering and leaving at will, and asks what use it is to even have guards. He orders Li Zhong to take the guards outside and have them beaten to death.
Next, he orders Zhao Gao to torture the palace maids again, and if no one can reveal where Li Er has gone, the maids are to be killed as well. Although I get that it was normal for kings to have full say over their subjects’ life and death, Ying Zheng’s penchant for casually ordering peoples’ deaths like this really bothers me. In the nick of time, a guard runs in and reports that Li Er has returned. At hearing this news, Ying Zheng hurries outside to see for himself.
Li Er stands calm and composed at the palace gate as she waits and watches while Ying Zheng walks over to her. When he’s in front of her, she steps forward and does a polite curtsy before saying, “Li Er left the palace without permission and caused chaos in the palace. I’m here for my punishment.” Ying Zheng orders that Li Er be taken to prison, and Zhao Gao is only too happy to oblige.
When Li Er arrives at the prison, she is reunited with Qing Er. Sees how brutally she’s been tortured, Li Er says that she’s really sorry, and this is all her fault (yes, it is). Qing Er tells her not to blame herself. Wow, she’s nice. Zhao Gao tells Li Er that he can let her experience the same things as Qing Er (oh, shut up). Li Er says that she’s the one who left the palace and that her palace maids had nothing to do with it, so she will bear the punishment. Zhao Gao orders that Li Er be tied up for harsh interrogation.
It makes me feel a bit better that Li Er honestly couldn’t believe that Qing Er was tortured for her mistakes, but at the same time I don’t understand how she could be so naive. I can only think that in the world that she’s used to, everyone bears the consequences of their own actions and she didn’t foresee her maids and guards being brought into it. As for Zhao Gao, how does he even think of torturing Li Er knowing how much she means to Ying Zheng? Ying Zheng would be furious.
Ying Zheng arrives and orders the release of Li Er, stating that he never ordered for her to be tortured. He dismisses everyone in order to question Li Er in private, which he fires at her direction – why she left the palace, where she went, and if she went with anyone. Li Er doesn’t look at him when she says that before entering the palace, she lived a carefree life and could go whereever she wanted. She couldn’t bear how boring and stifling it was in the palace, so she went out to have fun. She said that she just wandered around, and there was no one with her. It doesn’t look like Ying Zheng buys it, but he decides to move on.
Ying Zheng questions Li Er how she was able to leave the palace when security is so tight, and wonders if there was someone who helped her. Li Er‘s answer is that she trained in martial arts since she was a child, but doesn’t have an answer when Ying Zheng says that even if he buys that, he doubts how she could’ve made it through the outer palace. Li Er insists that she escaped on her own and no one helped her. She waited until now to try to escape because she was worried about having a miscarriage when she was still pregnant with Tian Ming. Ying Zheng tells her that she treated the palace as an inn to come and go as she pleases, and asks whether she thinks that he wouldn’t have the heart to punish her. Li Er replies that she‘s not that arrogant, and that she doesn’t have a response to his accusations. She tells him to punish her as he pleases though she has always intended to come back to the palace because of Tian Ming.
Ying Zheng steps up right next to Li Er to tell her that she can let him know if she wants to go out of the palace to play. He just loves pushing himself into her personal space. When Li Er doesn’t look at him, he grabs her face and turns it towards him to make her look at him, “Even now, you’re not willing to look straight at me?”
As he said before, he really hates it when she ignores him. He lets go when Li Er offers no response. Saying that he underestimated Li Er’s abilities, Ying Zheng says he intends to rearrange and tighten the security in his palace from now on. He tells Zhao Gao to lock her up so she can reflect on her actions, but no one is allowed to use torture without his permission.
Li Er is thrown into the same cell as Qing Er and apologizes again. Qing Er tells Li Er not to say such things, that it’s her fault because she didn’t take care of Li Er properly. When she says she’s willing to do anything for Li Er, Li Er promises her that she won’t let her suffer anymore.
Jing Ke is still angry and depressed over everything that’s happened. Lan Er tries to make him feel better by first offering to make him something to eat, then suggesting to practice sword fighting to take his mind off what happened. Jing Ke harshly rejects Lan Er, which obviously hurts her feelings. Jing Ke realizes that he was too harsh and apologizes to Lan Er, saying that he just wants to be alone. Poor Lan Er.
Uh oh. Zhao Gao finds out that Han Shen had been on vacation during the same time that Li Er was outside the palace, and he plans to take advantage of this opportunity. He tells his underling to investigate Han Shen’s background. The next day when Han Shen arrives at the palace, he’s immediately arrested by Zhao Gao.
Zhao Gao brings Han Shen in front of Ying Zheng as the traitor who helped Li Er leave the palace. He says that Han Shen’s story doesn’t hold up, because if he really went back to his hometown for a vacation, he shouldn’t have returned to Xianyang City so soon. Ying Zheng is unwilling to believe that Han Shen is guilty, and says that just because Han Shen misled them about going back to his hometown doesn’t mean he had something to do with Li Er’s disappearance.
Zhao Gao has a response ready – he says that someone must’ve helped Li Er because of the tight security in the palace. Li Zhong says that Zhao Gao’s accusations are not completely unreasonable, and recommends that they ask Han Shen directly. Ying Zheng gives Han Shen a chance to talk, but he just remains silent. Zhao Gao reminds Ying Zheng that when Tian Ming disappeared, he risked his life to ask the King to search the Southern Palace, and then asked for a visit to his hometown as his reward. Since Han Shen was lying and must be hiding something from them, he recommends the harshest punishment for him.
Madam Chu reports Li Er’s escape to the Grand Dowager adding that all of Li Er’s palace maids and guards were harshly interrogated and tortured, and a huge search had to be conducted. She says that Li Er simply returned to the palace as if nothing ever happened, and Ying Zheng’s only response was to have her put in prison. After some time, Ying Zheng may let her return to her residence and take no other action. As Madam Chu hoped, Grand Dowager is furious and decides she must do something to punish Li Er.
Ying Zheng tells Han Shen that if he doesn’t reveal everything, he will lock Han Shen up in prison so he and Li Er can confront each other directly. Han Shen is shocked to find out that Li Er has been put in prison and even rises without permission. Ying Zheng says that he put her in prison for breaking the rules and leaving the palace without permission, and if he hadn’t punished Li Er, the entire world would now be laughing at him.
Han Shen does what he has to save Li Er – he says that it was actually him who abducted Li Er, and she is innocent. Aww. He guesses that Li Er must’ve kept it a secret because she didn’t want to bring harm to Han Shen out of her kindness. Ying Zheng is suspicious and asks why Li Er would cover for him when they barely know each other, and Han Shen says he’s not sure. Li Zhong asks him why he chose to return when he must’ve known that he would be punished, and Han Shen says that he really regretted what he did and knows he shouldn’t have done it. He tells Ying Zheng to punish him. Ying Zheng orders for Han Shen to be locked in prison so he and Li Er can confront each other directly.
Meanwhile, the Grand Dowager has sent her people to the prison to punish Li Er and Qing Er by cutting their hair. Ying Zheng arrives before that and orders everyone to leave. Li Zhong says that the people of the Grand Dowager’s palace have become more and more out of control.
Ying Zheng asks Li Er if she’s had enough time to reflect, and asks her again who helped her leave the palace. Li Er stresses that no one helped her, she left by herself. Ying Zheng tells her that he knew that she was making up stories, but didn’t pursue the matter because of his love and care for her. He asks her what she has to say now that Han Shen turned himself in. Li Er can’t believe it. He orders Han Shen to be brought in, and Ying Zheng says that he knows one of them is lying. He demands to know who it is. When Li Er doesn’t respond, he grabs her and asks her why she would protect a lowly palace guard. Li Er upsets him more when she tells him to punish her if she doesn’t believe her, but if he believes her, to let the matter go.
Han Shen sees that Li Er is getting into bigger trouble, and willingly shoulders the blame to save her. Li Er struggles with whether or not to reveal that Han Shen is her martial arts brother, not knowing if it will help or hurt him. Ying Zheng decides Li Er had been lying to him, and declares that Han Shen will be punished for the crime of taking a royal consort out of the palace. He tells Li Zhong to bring Li Er back to her residence, and forbids anyone rom visiting her without his permission. Ying Zheng tells Zhao Gao to deal with Han Shen as befitting his crime.
Back in her residence, Li Er remembers when Han Shen saying that when in comes to loving someone, even if that love is not reciprocated, it’s enough to be by that person’s side and protect them. He tells her to always have an escape route and that she can ask for his help at any time. Aww. I love Han Shen. Li Er considers what she can do now.
Han Shen has been badly beaten and tortured in prison. He hasn’t said anything, but Zhao Gao thinks that he has figured it out – Han Shen and Li Er were planning to elope. That could be the only reason that Han Shen came back running to the palace. He orders the guards to continue with the beating.
Li Er dismisses all of her palace maids except for Qing Er, and tells Qing Er that she needs her help, because she wants to go and see Han Shen in prison. Qing Er knows the dangers of doing so and hesitates, but Li Er promises Qing Er that she’ll explain her relationship with Han Shen to her one day and that she won’t leave the palace again. However, she wouldn’t be able to live peacefully if Han Shen dies. Li Er dresses in the uniform of a palace maid and successfully makes it past the guards.
Zhao Gao reports to Ying Zheng that Han Shen has stuck to his story of abducting Li Er. However, it doesn’t make sense that Li Er wouldn’t report an evil person who abducted her against her will. Zhao Gao says that Han Shen and Li Er were alone together for days, which is not appropriate behavior. Furthermore, Li Er should want to come out and express her innocence – unless she and Han Shen have a hidden relationship.
Thanks everyone for reading!
Previous <- Episode Recap -> Next